Saturday 11th of July 2020

apologies for the silly season...

taylor is a waste of space   Welcome along to Independent Australia’s annual Christmas Party, here at the Rose of Australia Hotel in Sydney. 

Before we get into the speeches, I would like to pass on some apologies from some other distinguished guests who would have loved to have been here, but were unfortunately unable to make it.

Firstly, Energy Minister Angus Taylor couldn’t be here tonight. He was going to be here, but he said the PDF he downloaded from the IA website apparently had tonight’s event on December 14, 200019. Our IT people are looking into this at the moment.

Angus was also kind enough to pass on the apologies for Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who he said was on a month-long tour of Europe and the Mediterranean, with a dozen or two of her personal staff. That was very decent of Angus to pass along the Mayor’s apologies.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejklian couldn’t be here tonight, sadly. Right now, she’s very busy dealing with the fire emergency, obviously. She said she couldn’t make it which there’s a single koala left … to save.

Australian test cricket captain Tim Paine was really looking forward to being here tonight, but, unfortunately for us, he was overruled by Steve Smith.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller couldn’t make it. He said he would have liked to have been here, but it was bin night, so…

However, in passing on his apologies, he did issue a short statement about the recent controversy involving Angus Taylor, which he asked to be passed on to Independent Australia subscribers and supporters.

Here is Commissioner Fuller’s statement in full:

Following reports in multiple media outlets about an investigation involving NSW Police into an alleged forged document emanating from the Sydney City Council publicly accessible worldwide web internet website, I can confirm that my offices did receive a telephonic phone call last week from a known associate of myself, a male gentleman of Caucasian appearance, approximately 50 to 60 years old, who goes by the street name of “ScoMo”. Allegedly also answers to the name “Prime Minister”.


I can also confirm that we are assisting this gentleman with his enquiries.


Without going to the substance of our top-secret investigation, I can reveal that allegations against a certain 50-to-55-year-old Rhodes Scholar of suave Caucasian appearance and who answers to the name of Angus, or the sound of money, are absolutely without substance.


I have recommended the investigators apologise to this gentleman for any inconvenience to which the complainants, the Australian Communist Party ... I mean, the Australian Labor Party … have caused him and, furthermore, that he be recommended for an Order of Australia medal.

There was just one last message received, this one from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Not exactly an RSVP, it just reads: 'How good is Mick Fuller!'


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cruelty is not in the christmas spirit...

The Coalition's decision to repeal a law that secures healthcare rights for refugees is astoundingly cruel, writes Binoy Kampmark.

“WE HAVE Cabinet ministers in here like lemmings coming in here to vote for a Bill we haven’t seen.”  These words from Labor Senator Penny Wong was pointed and relevant to one of the darker chapters in Australian political history. And there have been a few. The Medevac legislation, a necessary law to combat the needlessly cruel state of affairs for asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, is no more. 

Passed in the last sitting week of 2018, it privileged medical opinion in determining the need for emergency medical treatment over political expediency. That did not, as often misrepresented by the Morrison government, remove ministerial discretion altogether. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton could still block transfers, as he had done.


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aussie dress code: thongs, shorts, socks and singlet...


The federal government has written to local councils demanding they provide detail of new Australia Day dress codes that it instructed them to develop.

At least one inner Sydney council says it will not be imposing the dress codes for citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, while the peak body for local government in New South Wales has criticised them as needless red tape.

Darcy Byrne, the mayor of Sydney’s Inner West council, which stretches from the waterside suburb of Balmain to Ashfield, says his council has not and will not develop the dress code, despite receiving a letter instructing him to do so within the month.

“There are people recovering from losing everything, from losing family members in the bushfires, and this is what the Department of Home Affairs and Minister Coleman are saying needs to be prescribed urgently? It’s beyond a joke, it’s beyond belief,” he told Guardian Australia.

“This is an inane, undergraduate culture wars stunt from the government, and citizenship ceremonies should be above that.


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the contrary would have been surprising...

The Australian Federal Police has decided it will not pursue an investigation into Energy Minister Angus Taylor and his office, after the Minister used an allegedly forged document in an extraordinary political attack against Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Key points:
  • Angus Taylor wrote to Clover Moore, criticising her council for spending millions on international travel
  • Labor referred the matter to New South Wales police for investigation, who then passed the case on to the Australian Federal Police
  • The AFP said there was no evidence of Mr Taylor's involvement in any forged document


Mr Taylor wrote a letter to Ms Moore, claiming her arguments criticising the Coalition's climate change policies would be stronger had her own councillors not racked up millions of dollars in overseas travel.

However, the figures Mr Taylor relied on from the council's annual report were wrong.

Labor had asked New South Wales Police to investigate the matter. It was then referred to the AFP for consideration.

The AFP said there was no evidence to indicate the Minister was involved in falsifying information, and it was unlikely further investigation would find any incriminating evidence.

"Following inquiries undertaken and information provided by NSW Police, the AFP has determined it is unlikely further investigation will result in obtaining sufficient evidence to substantiate a Commonwealth offence," an AFP spokesperson said in a statement.

"The AFP assessment of this matter identified there is no evidence to indicate the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction was involved in falsifying information.

"The low level of harm and the apology made by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, along with the significant level of resources required to investigate were also factored into the decision not to pursue this matter."

Mr Taylor welcomed the finding.

"The Labor Party has a track record of using police referrals as a political tool," he said.

"The Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Attorney-General's pursuit of this matter is a shameful abuse of their office and a waste of our policing agencies' time."

Earlier, Labor had tried to suspend the usual business of Parliament to force a debate over Mr Taylor's conduct.

Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to explain why Mr Taylor had not been stood down over the controversy, when Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie had quit over the sports grants saga.

"Australians with even a passing interest in politics are asking how does this Minister still have his job?" Mr Butler said.


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That the AFP found nothing in this case seems to be on track with the AFP brief: Find the grain of sand in a Labor backyard, but do not see the belching black chimneys in the Liberal cactus garden. Please, the excuse coming from the AFP about Angus Taylor's document smells of political fear or bias, through whatever connections to please the Scomo government... 


The AFP was far more efficient at finding ABC journalists guilty of something or rather...


It may not be "intentional", but Gus fears that the AFP is politically motivated in its non-findings/findings stuff...


The political ramification of all this is not that Taylor "forged the document himself" but that HE DID NOT CHECK WITH THE RELEVANT PERSON, CLOVER MOORE, ABOUT THE INFORMATION — meaning he wanted to do damage rather than be truthful. Most likely source of the information would have been the Murdoch media WHERE HIS ALLEGATIONS WERE PUBLISHED.  This is anything 101, including this website. Check and double-check information from several sources, including some that are kept secret here.



not happy clover...

The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has demanded the prime minister, Scott Morrison, explain to parliament how his energy minister, Angus Taylor, came to rely on a false document that was used to accuse her of hypocrisy on climate change, after the Australian Federal Police declined to investigate.

The AFP announced on Thursday it would not investigate the doctored document scandal further, saying it was unlikely a commonwealth offence had been committed and there was no evidence that Taylor had been involved in falsifying the document.

The decision has outraged Moore and the opposition, which had initially referred the matter to the NSW police.

Moore said she still did not know how Taylor came by a page of the City of Sydney’s annual report, which contained incorrect figures and which showed that the City of Sydney had spent $15m on travel. The real figures, available online, show it was a fraction of that.

“He didn’t give me any explanation about how that happened. I still don’t know why the minister did that, why he signed that letter,” she told ABC radio.

The incorrect figures were included in a letter Taylor sent to Moore criticising her declaration of a climate emergency and suggesting she curtail her travel instead. The letter was then leaked to the Telegraph, which mocked her declaration publicly.

Moore said that Taylor’s apology, made in parliament a month ago, was not sufficient.

“Does he not think that climate change is important? That my reputation is not important?”

Moore said the prime minister should now investigate the matter and report to parliament, as the matter still raised important questions of ministerial conduct.

But she added that she would not be pursuing the matter further and would extend focus on the business of the city.



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Had it been the ABC doing a real good job on the government, the AFP would have fallen on it like a ton of bricks... Ah yes... This is what happened, remember?

fearful, lazy, biased or simply incompetent police?...

It's bad enough that fraud allegations against Angus Taylor are not being pursued, but why aren’t journalists angry? Dr Jennifer Wilson discusses the media's response.

LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES, flawed as they are under capitalism, cannot function without honesty and trust between all parties. Without those moral attributes, what we have is an empty shell of democracy, sucked dry of its meaty substance — its institutions still in place but co-opted for the benefit of the powerful.

The Australian Federal Police announced last week that it would not be pursuing an investigation into allegations of fraud levelled against Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Taylor launched an attack on Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s climate action credentials, using travel figures apparently pulled from a wombat’s bottom that bore no relationship whatsoever to the Sydney City Council’s actual travel costs.

The AFP stated that:

'The low level of harm and the apology made by the [Minister] to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, along with the significant level of resources required to investigate were also factored into the decision not to pursue this matter.”

Alleged fraud by a government minister is hardly “low-level harm” in any universe in which ethics and morals, honesty and trust, still hold sway. If Minister Taylor has committed fraud, we the people have the right to demand proper investigation and appropriate penalties. If he has not, we are equally entitled to know that his innocence has been reliably established.

Taylor is a minister of the Crown, and as such is invested with enormous power. We cannot award the exercise of ministerial powers to an individual who has allegedly committed fraud — and it is the job of the AFP to establish whether or not this is the case. To do otherwise, to refuse to pursue the matter, is to undermine our democracy.

Then there’s Taylor’s apology. When did an apology serve as a basis for the AFP declining to investigate criminal allegations? The alleged victim, Clover Moore, has not accepted Taylor's apology. Indeed, like many others, she is questioning the independence of the AFP and says she believes the agency never intended to investigate the allegations in the first place.

It was intriguing to hear on ABC Insiders on Sunday (9 February 2020), journalist Andrew Probyncomment, almost as an aside, that “the police were in an awkward spot” regarding the Taylor investigation. Guardian journalist Katharine Murphy agreed the police were in a “tight spot” over the matter. Both journalists seem to be acknowledging that it is difficult for the AFP to investigate a Coalition politician — particularly this Minister. It is difficult to interpret their comments in any other way. 

Why does a law enforcement agency find itself in an “awkward” and “tight” spot when called upon to investigate alleged wrongdoing by a politician? What is it that makes investigating Angus Taylor “awkward” and “tight”?

And most importantly, why do two senior journalists apparently assume that it is a given that the AFP would find itself in this dilemma when asked to investigate Taylor? Is this tacit acknowledgement that the AFP is controlled by this Government? Is it known among the Press Gallery corps that investigations into politicians’ alleged wrongdoing are different from investigations into the rest of us?

And if Probyn and Murphy are possessed of this knowledge, why do they accept it instead of challenging it?

A well-functioning fourth estate is essential to democracy. We require journalists to speak truth to power on our behalf. We look to journalists not to simply accept the way governments like things, but rather to challenge government, agency and institutional conduct when necessary.

That Probyn and Murphy so unquestioningly describe the AFP’s difficulties with the Taylor investigation as awkward and tight, without asking, on our behalf, exactly why the AFP is on the spot when it comes to this Minister, should ring very loud alarm bells for all of us.

Why aren’t these journalists angry? It’s not long since the AFP raided the ABC and the home of News Corp’s Annika Smethurst seeking evidence of alleged unauthorised leaks, and yet allegations of fraud against a minister of the Crown are too difficult for the agency to pursue?

In today’s political world, this example of the erosion of democracy is relatively small and that statement in itself ought to give us food for serious thought. It involves the elected LNP Government, a minister of the Crown, the Australian Federal Police, the public broadcaster and The Guardian. Government, police and media — three institutions essential to the success of democracy.

Laws must apply to those who govern as well as to the governed. It is the task of journalists to speak out when this is not the case. It’s not the task of journalists to protect agencies such as the AFP by sympathising with the “tight and awkward spots” the pursuit of a politician for an alleged crime may land them in. It should be of no consequence to the AFP that the person of interest is a cabinet minister. The fact that journalists acknowledge that this is not the case without questioning why it is not the case, is a serious matter.


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bitten the cyber dust?...

Independent Australia's website seems to have gone off the internet for this computer... No way to access the caper. Please advise. GL.

angus taylor should've checked with clover before...

There’s no evidence the minister did the dodgy document deed himself. But someone did and it’s hard to believe he doesn’t know who

There are 13 people who should be able to help resolve the Angus Taylor mystery – and help the energy minister get it off the political agenda.

They are the 13 who downloaded the Sydney City Council annual report 2017-18 between Friday 6 September and Monday 9 September last year.

Taylor has told parliament this was the timeframe when his staff printed out travel expenses details used in a botched attempt to mock Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s climate change concerns.

He later apologised because the figures he used were bogus.

But the central unknown of what otherwise might merely have been a footnote in a book of dumb political smartarsery remains.

Where did the inaccurate travel expense figures Taylor inadvisedly hurled at Moore come from? Because no one, not police investigator, council officials and Taylor’s own staff, can find them in the report.

He has said his staff didn’t concoct them, and nor did he. And it would be pushing a conspiracy theory up a steepish hill to suggest Taylor lied about not making up the numbers.

At the very least it would be a stunning act of stupidity for him to think no one would twig to the fakery were he to try it.

It seems more likely he was duped by someone, possibly someone outside his office with a conduit to him. Clover Moore has lots of enemies in Sydney who for around 15 years have had to watch voters rebuff attempts to get rid of her.

One of them, someone he trusted, might have slipped a dodgy document to Taylor, who saw a chance for an easy cheap hit on Moore and the climate change campaign, in itself an admission the nation’s energy minister isn’t a fan of global warming worries.

The fact this episode is still something to speculate about eight months later, that even the minister hasn’t, or can’t, fluently explain what happened, is a matter of concern.

It goes to credibility.

The Morrison government has been granted a massive stock of trust as a consequence of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The faith is warranted and the government hopes to mobilise it on non-Covid-19 matters such as economic policy.


But a government’s credibility chain is as strong as its weakest link, and at the moment that is Angus Taylor, as Labor will point out when parliament returns in two weeks.

Whomever might have been involved in production of the exaggerated expense figures most likely would have downloaded the section of the council annual report, and could be one of the September group of 13.

Most in the group – a total of 10 – downloaded it on 9 September. It is likely they were council staff trying to find a document which Taylor had cited in a letter to Moore and later sent to the Daily Telegraph.


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Angus Taylor is either an idiot or a lying bastard who got caught out. He should've checked with Clover Moore before sending his nasty letter to the Daily Telegraph

First, Gus is a master forger of documents. Gus could unpick where the restructured document was fiddled with — even if recreated entirely.

Second, Angus letter went to the Daily Telegraph where checking documentation isn't the forte of the idiots working there. Had the letter be sent to all media, AS IT SHOULD HAVE, most of the press would have "investigated" and found out that the figures were wrong before publishing anything. That is the job of editors and staff to make sure they work on solid grounds — not just on the word of a minister. I know the idea behind Angus Taylor was to hit Clover hard, by publishing, before she could present a counter defence.

Third, it's most likely that the source of the fake document has a relationship with the Murdoch press as well as with Angus Taylor or his staff. If the police did not find anything is because they were under orders not to find anything.


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sports rorts and taylorgate, continued...

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his scandal-prone energy and emissions reductions minister, Angus Taylor, are hoping to use the coronavirus as a big get-out-of-jail-free card – on sports rorts, on #Taylorgate, and on much else besides. They hope that, because there is a bona fide health and economic crisis unfolding, anyone who raises these tawdry episodes will look petty or worse – an addict of the kind of gutter politics that Australians hate. Never mind that this situation is of Morrison and his ministers’ own doing. It wasn’t Labor or journalists from inside the Canberra bubble who dragged the prime minister’s office into the sports rorts affair; it wasn’t Labor or the media that decided it would be a lark to make fun of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore’s climate activism by shipping a forged council document to The Daily Telegraph.


Morrison and Taylor did all this by themselves. In the House this week, both stood accused of misleading parliament, and both got away with reverse-smearing the Opposition for having the temerity to ask questions about either episode in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. If Australians fall for that, we will be on the slippery slope to Trumpism, and soon there will no accountability for any minister, ever, misleading parliament again.


First to sports rorts, which exploded onto federal politics in January when an Australian National Audit Office report found that certain applicants to the $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure Grant program (that is, those from marginal seats targeted by the Coalition) got favourable treatment. Bridget McKenzie, then sports minister, lost her portfolio and the deputy leadership of the Nationals over that, and the prime minister has consistently sought to downplay the involvement of his office in decisions over funding allocations, telling parliament that “there was no authorisation provided by me as prime minister on the projects”. But, as Guardian Australia’s Paul Karp reported last Friday, the ANAO, in written responses to questions on notice, wrote that “the prime minister’s office had advised the minister’s office that it was expected that the minister would write to the prime minister to seek ‘authority’ on the approved projects and inform the prime minister of the ‘roll out plan’”. Karp has stayed on the story all week, pressing the PM in a press conference on Monday and following through on Tuesday and Wednesday, after Morrison attempted to explain that the authority of his office related to election announcements, rather than funding decisions itself. Right. It all culminated in this exchange with Labor’s deputy leader, Richard Marles, in the House yesterday: 

Marles: My question is to the prime minister. Why did the prime minister tell the House yesterday, about his sports rorts scheme, “The only authority sought from the prime minister’s office and for myself was in relation to announcements,” when the audit office found the prime minister’s office told Senator McKenzie’s office, “It was expected that the minister would write to the prime minister to seek authority on the approved projects and inform the prime minister of the rollout plan”?

Morrison: I said it because it was true.


Gobsmacking. When Marles came around for his next question, the PM stuck to his guns and then went for the reverse-smear: 

Today, we heard information released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that almost 600,000 Australians have lost their jobs. That’s where my focus is. I will leave the Australian people – [Opposition members interjecting] – leave it to their judgement to see where the Opposition’s focus is.


Angus Taylor, who has much less to commend him than the PM, is even more brazen, and again it is Guardian Australia that has stayed doggedly with the story, led by Anne Davies. As Davies reported on Wednesday, the Australian Federal Police told the Senate, in answers to questions on notice, that it had “no concluded view” on who doctored the City of Sydney council document provided to The Daily Telegraph, and after receiving a “thorough and detailed” brief from NSW Police, the AFP dropped the investigation. The AFP had already stated there was “no evidence” the document was downloaded from the council’s website, but Taylor has repeatedly said the document was “accessed” from the website and he repeated that claim in the House yesterday after being questioned by his Opposition counterpart, Mark Butler:  


Butler: My question is again to the minister for energy and emissions reduction. On 24 October last year, in answer to a question, the minister told the House that a document with fake numbers was drawn from the City of Sydney website, but New South Wales police told the New South Wales parliament that they found no evidence that the minister’s office downloaded the annual report from the City of Sydney’s website. Does the minister stand by his statement to the House? Why won’t the minister tell the House where the document came from?

Taylor: I do stand by the statement I made on 25 October – that the document was accessed from the City of Sydney website – [members interjecting] – Let me read from the department’s evidence, which was made public in January, four months ago: “The department did ascertain that the City of Sydney’s website was accessed by the minister’s office on 9 September 2019. The department’s system allows individuals to directly print from the website.” This matter was the ninth political referral from those opposite, and, in keeping with the previous eight, the matter was considered and closed, not once, but twice. As the commissioner said, the matter is finalised, full stop. I’m getting on with protecting lives and livelihoods, because I know that a strong Australia coming out of the COVID-19 crisis requires a secure and reliable supply of energy, liquid fuels, gas and electricity. That’s what I’m focusing on every day. Those opposite should do the same.


What Taylor actually said in the House last October – it was the 24th – was that the document was “drawn from the City of Sydney website”. Whether it was drawn, accessed or downloaded, we all know who provided that forged document to The Daily Telegraph in a student-politics hit job, and Taylor’s semantics make a mockery of the parliament. 


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police exempt..

police exempt...


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